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Genesee County’s 7th Circuit Court judge candidates talk with the Courier

Featured photo by Photo by Tara Winstead. Pexels.

Judge Duncan Beagle is retiring at the end of 2022, which will leave a seat available for Genesee County’s 7th Circuit Court judge.

For the August 2 primary, there are three candidates running for this non-incumbent bench seat in Genesee County’s 7th Circuit Court. The seat is for a 6-year term.

Rebecca Jurva-Brinn, Dawn Weier and Mary Hood-the candidates running for the seat-all responded to a questionnaire from the Courier regarding their priorities, qualifications and suitability for this role.

Their responses are below. Please note that the responses from candidates will appear as they were submitted to the Flint Courier. All photos are courtesy of the candidate, and the Flint Courier does not endorse any individual candidate.

Responses

Rebecca Jurva-Brinn

Rebecca Jurva-Brinn

1. What is your courtroom experience?
I have been an assistant prosecutor in Genesee County since 2006. I have handled cases in all courts including over 4,000 felonies. I have made over 20,000 courtroom appearances and tried over 50 felony jury trials and nearly 100 bench trials. For three years I focused on child abuse and neglect cases in our family courts. I have received the Award for Professional Excellence twice from the State Police.
2. What contributions have you given to the Flint community in order to gain our confidence that you will be a fair and equitable judge?
I have been a Girl Scout Leader for my daughters since 2016. Our troops participate in many service activities which help those in need in our area. I have participated in many community projects with Girl Scouts, as well as my church. As a prosecutor I have focused on helping those most vulnerable in our community; I intend to continue doing so as a judge.
3. What programs do you envision developing to address the judicial inequities? Would you collaborate with community organizations to ensure the success of those programs? If yes, how?
“Diversity and Inclusion are about giving value to every human being no matter our differences.” (Unknown Source) Judges can create specialty courts for helping those coming before them. I want to start a Domestic Violence Court for both the perpetrators and the victims of domestic violence. I also want to partner with the YWCA and other organizations which provide counseling, anger management, parenting classes and other help.
4. Racial disparities in the criminal justice system are well documented. What are the processes you will put in place to ensure you apply the law equitably in this area, in particular?
Judges must ensure that justice is equal regardless of race. The Courts need to make sure the police are following proper procedures and upholding the Constitution. Woven into our notion of justice is the concept of balance, as symbolized by our Scales of Justice. Balance comes when the courts promote equity and fairness for all, and as a judge I will endeavor to balance the scales and keep justice equal.

Dawn Weier

Dawn Weier

What is your courtroom experience?

I have been an attorney for over 20 years and practice in State and Federal Court. I have civil, family and criminal experience. I am an experienced trial lawyer and handle appeals. I am on the MIDC team for District Court where I represent defendants in criminal cases through trial. I was also on the felony list for Genesee County where I represented hundreds of indigent defendants in felony cases.

What contributions have you given to the Flint Community in order to gain our confidence that you will be a fair and equitable judge?

I lived in Flint. I was on the Board at Big Brothers Big Sisters. I am a court appointed attorney for District Court. I represent Flint residents who cannot afford an attorney. I take pride in that I look at each case and not only get them the best resolution possible, but see if they have any underlying issues to be addressed, i.e. substance abuse, mental health, anger issues, etc.

3. What programs do you envision developing to address the judicial inequities? Would you collaborate with community organizations to ensure the success of the programs? If yes, how?

The best program I can envision is, if elected, to make sure that all participants in the judicial system that come before me are treated fairly and with respect and dignity. I would maintain an open-door policy with any community organizations that had questions, concerns or provide insight.

4. Racial disparities in the criminal justice system are well documented. What are the processes you will put in place to ensure you apply the law equitably in this area, in particular?

Judges should treat all that come before them fairly and with respect and dignity.

Further, judges should ensure that all the parties, attorneys and court personnel treat

everyone they encounter fairly and with respect and dignity. There should be zero

tolerance for any discrimination towards anyone. If elected, I would apply the law fairly

to all that come before me

Mary Hood

Mary Hood
  1. What is your courtroom experience? 

I have represented low-income families, indigent defendants, Highland Park, and operated a law practice.  I was a Magistrate for Flint and have served as the first and only Black Attorney Referee for the 7th Circuit Court for twenty years.  I have heard and decided thousands of family law and traffic matters. The new judge will be assigned to the Family Division, where I have filled in for judges. 

2. What contributions have you given to the Flint community in order to gain our confidence that you will be a fair and equitable judge?

A lifelong Flint resident, I am deeply invested in the community.  I support small businesses and the arts in Flint.  I am a guest speaker at MCC and the U of M-Flint and am a member of the YMCA. I mentor students and invite them to shadow me at the courthouse.  I helped establish “Career Day” for local schools and have helped at risk children.   

 3. What programs do you envision developing to address the judicial inequities? Would you collaborate with community organizations to ensure the success of those programs?  If yes, how? 

The judiciary’s programs (Specialty Courts or Problem-Solving Courts) are grant funded and creatures of legislation which address specific needs of individuals.  Michigan’s Code of Judicial Conduct requires a judge to treat everyone fairly, without regard to a person’s race, gender, etc. I have complied with this code for 25 years.  I welcome collaboration with community organizations to improve the legal process and ensure “equal justice under law.” 

4. Racial disparities in the criminal justice system are well documented.  What are the processes you will put in place to ensure you apply the law equitably in this area, in particular? 

I was a child of the Civil Rights Movement.  My sense of justice and fairness is innate. I have been deciding facts and applying the law fairly for 20 years. When sentencing a defendant, I will carefully evaluate/weigh offense variables, such as the seriousness of an offense and whether the crime was against a person, and prior record variables, such as the nature of prior offenses, before sentencing.  

Photo by Polina Kovaleva. Pexels

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